Does the good old capacitive touch control technology still have a place in music technology? Well, according to Buchla (and Arturia, with their super popular Microfreak), yes indeed. Don Buchla was one of the first to apply this technology to electronic music in the Buchla 112 module, and later on in several other Buchla products, such as Music Easel, 400, 700, Thunder, and 223.
A few days ago Buchla USA have introduced the third iteration of one of the most used touch interfaces, the 218, as the LEM218v3: The 218e version3 Lunar Excursion Module. The first design appeared in the 1973 release of the Buchla Music Easel and named for the spacecraft that delivered astronauts to the moon.
Providing the familiar piano key layout for this early mobile music machine, the additional controls and capabilities were an interface for exploring uncharted musical territory.
Version 3 is a major and welcome update, adopting a new foundation of stable, modern electronics and plenty of inputs and outputs to integrate with your Buchla, MIDI, and Eurorack gear.
According to the company, “the incredible sensitivity and accuracy of the redesigned touch bed means the lightest touch will produce triggers and control voltage for your setup. The adjustable sensor has the dynamic range and durability to handle your playing. The new texture not only improves the sensing, but provides a satisfying tactile experience.
As always, pressure is an expressive output, adding an extra dimension to the control. MIDI outputs velocity and polyphony, as well as channel pressure, making the LEM218 a uniquely expressive controller for all your synthesizers. The configurable touchstrip adds a fantastic addition for pitch bend or as an additional modulator to patch into your system.”
From a musician’s point of view, capacitive touch control systems such as the LEM218, allow for interesting new ways to approach the sound design process. The instantaneous response makes for a very different experience from the keys of a piano or even modern MPE controllers such as the Roli one. It’s hard to explain, I would call it an intimate, electric and organic connection that it’s unlike anything else.
On top of that, the MIDI and Eurorack compatible-features allow you to do all you would expect from a modern controller, including polyphony, channel pressure and velocity, touch strip, CV-mangling and all that jazz. Cool tip: send the LEM some MIDI, and it gets converted to voltages and gates for eurorack and Buchla control!
The LEM218v3 is available now around the world and directly from Buchla for $1,299.00.
DISCLOSURE: Our posts may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.